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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Punahou student at White House

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Matthew Shimura of Punahou was at yesterday’s White House town hall meeting on childhood health.


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Matthew Shimura

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A student filmmaker from Hawai'i was on the other side of the camera yesterday when he was recognized by first lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

A town hall for students to discuss Obama's Let's Move! campaign to promote healthier diets and more exercise for children began with a showing of Matthew Shimura's documentary, "Childhood Obesity."

Shimura, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Punahou School, was asked to attend the town hall after winning C-SPAN's national StudentCam competition, in which kids produced and entered 5- to 8-minute documentaries on a political topic of their choice.

Shimura, whose entry in the middle-school category beat out more than 1,000 others from 45 states, said Hawai'i's teacher furlough days were the inspiration for the video.

"Our public schools don't have classes on furlough Fridays, and students don't have school lunch or P.E. on those days," Shimura said.

He said he wondered what effect the lack of a good meal and exercise would have on students.

Shimura asked Obama what the government could do to help make sure students got nutritious school lunches.

Obama said healthier diets have to start with individual families, but that the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act would be seeking more money to make sure more fresh fruits and vegetables make their way onto students' plates.

The first lady opened the town hall by telling the students that her concerns about childhood obesity spring from her experience as a working mother who didn't have time to prepare meals for her two daughters.

She urged the students to take control of their own health.

"It's not about how you look," Obama said. "It's about you eating the right foods and getting a lot of exercise. It's about being healthy."

Yesterday's event took place in the State Dining Room and involved students from schools in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas as well as some of the students whose videos won in various categories. Students from around the nation took part in a call-in segment.

The town hall was televised live on C-SPAN.